Content marketing is a digital marketing technique that focuses on offering valuable content at various customer touchpoints. Through content marketing, you can create business opportunities, build brand image and capture an engaged, ready-t0-buy audience.
According to a research report by Statista, 91 percent of global marketers use content marketing strategies. A majority of them have a defined process in place to ensure that they get the best results. This proves the increasing influence of content on buyers and associated audiences, and hence, every organization should consider this a powerful tool.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
For a layperson, content marketing can seem like a simple process involving the creation and distribution of content. However, this is not the case. Content marketing needs strategy, continuous mapping and upgrading to connect with the target audience.
You need to have a unique concept and selling proposition to stay ahead of competitors. Below are the significant components that serve as the basis for an effective strategy:
Brand positioning or a clear vision of the product or service is the first step towards an effective strategy. This helps you deliver a consistent and delightful customer experience, resulting in a positive brand image.
The following gives you a clearer picture of your brand positioning:
- Target audience, both existing and prospective
- Experience and outcome expected by the customer
- Products and experiences offered by competitors
- Your company’s unique proposition
- Issues resolved by your offering
Why should customers rely on your content? What benefits are you providing through your content? To be considered a reliable brand, you should define the value addition in your content. Readers following your content could eventually become loyal customers, and this would entirely depend on the quality you provide on various platforms.
Research is key to understanding what your customers want and creating compelling content, whether that’s how-to listicles, evergreen posts or news stories. Also, persistent analysis and evaluation of your competitors’ offerings give you insights into how you can improve yours.
A content marketing strategy is not a one-time undertaking. You have to keep improving and upgrading your offering to stay ahead of the curve. Undoubtedly, the plan is to attract new customers and followers. But this strategy should also focus on long-term growth, which means you will have to discover new horizons and invest in tools that drive towards that goal.
Every goal can be achieved with an effective plan. Decide on media you will be using to reach out to the audience and measure the outreach. Content marketing is a cycle, and negligence at any stage would lead to the failure of the whole system.
7 Steps to an Effective Content Strategy
You need to have a long-term vision when designing content for marketing purposes. You should extend the content across various platforms to maximize your reach and readership.
Here are seven steps for developing a content plan:
1. Review Your Existing Content
In case you already have content being channeled through different platforms, you should consider auditing it. With so many available resources online, your content should add to the reader’s knowledge at the very least to impress audiences.
If your existing content hasn’t contributed to your brand value, you need to analyze and upgrade to get better results. Remember that in digital marketing, constant improvement is key to success.
2. Shape Content for Attaining Marketing Goals
Once you are clear why you need a content marketing strategy, you should focus on realistic goals. Have clarity on whether you aim to build brand image, business growth or both simultaneously. While short-term goals are more specific and assessable, long-term targets contribute to the vision of the business.
Your goals can be any of the following:
- Limited goals can be achieved in a small duration and have a limited scope.
- Appreciable goals work on micro-levels and help in highlighting small campaigns.
- Re-definable goals are reworked in short intervals according to marketing needs and situations.
- Collaborative goals facilitate your workforce and promote teamwork.
- Emotional goals focus on enhancing your team’s confidence.
If you follow and categorize your goals based on the categories mentioned, you will reach each milestone and work toward the big-picture goal: business growth.
3. Define Your Audience
When making your content marketing strategy, always have clarity on the difference between buyers and audience. People reading content published by you will be your audience, but they might not end up buying your product immediately.
If you positively impact the audience, they might come back to buy your product or service in the future. Hence, you should keep your content engaging and valuable for every user.
A practical and interactive bond between your brand and the audience will lead to potential buyers. So, you should design your content with this in mind.
Your target segment comprises four types:
- Audience: People who are interested in your content or topic.
- Followers: People who find your content valuable and love your brand.
- Buyers: These people buy your offering (product or service).
- Advocates: They recommend your brand to others.
4. Craft an Editorial Plan
If you study the latest content marketing trends, you will understand that having a well-organized editorial plan is a must for success. Planning will help you spend your budget wisely on the right resources and tools. You should have a priority list to concentrate on critical tasks and get the best results.
In fact, you should know which content will attract your audience’s attention and keep them hooked. Ask your research team on relevant topics and related frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Once you have the content and flow, you should plan the calendar to reach out to the people correctly and at the right time.
5. Create Useful Content
Your content is a marketing tool for you, but it may be crucial information for your audience. Your content should be designed for everyone in your target market, from those with basic knowledge and awareness to those looking to upgrade their familiarity with the topic. Make the content readable, engaging, valuable and informative – for all your target readers.
6. Choose Content Distribution Channels
A crucial part of content marketing strategy is choosing your distribution channels. You can choose from paid media, owned channels and earned media. Use multiple channels and make sure they’re aligned to create a greater impact.
You can use various promotion formats like sponsored, viral, leadership, lead-generating influencer-driven content, etc.
7. Analyze Content and Check the Performance
Regular content analysis is a must. It helps you to know what appeals to your target audience and what content needs to be upgraded for a better impact.
Here’s what you need to do during your evaluation:
- Study visitors’ behavior like pages per session, exclusive visitors, etc.
- Check engagement tools like mentions, shares, likes, reviews, etc.
- Keep track of backlinks, organic traffic, etc.
- Analyze conversion rate through content marketing
As mentioned earlier, content marketing is a continuous cycle. Once you have analyzed your content performance, you will eventually have to circle back to the first step: reviewing the content. Remember that the digital space evolves continuously. So you need to be attentive to relevant trends and proactively modify your strategy to stay ahead of the competition.